Life with Celiac Disease: Actress Jennifer Esposito shares her story

An Allergic Foodie Reviews JENNIFER’S WAY: MY JOURNEY WITH CELIAC DISEASE

With all the recent and irritating media attention on going gluten-free–and by this I mean the idiotic celebrities poking fun at a “fad diet”–Jennifer’s Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease by Jennifer Esposito (Da Capo Press, 2014)  is a frank and accurate account of what it’s like to live with this debilitating disease. While I strive to live a full and productive and happy life with this autoimmune disease, I certainly admit it has not been an easy journey. Making it worse is people not taking my symptoms seriously. Being a respected actress and businesswoman and sharing her story, Esposito is the voice for all of us who feel unacknowledged and alone.

Esposito’s diagnosis story is a page-turner. She suffered severe symptoms for 20 years: gastrointestinal issues, ongoing sinus infections, dumbness in her hands and feet, depression, panic attacks, hair loss, dental issues, and a miscarriage. I was astounded that someone with her clout and resources received the same lack of respect from medical professionals as the rest of us do. Before seeing the doctor who finally gave her illness a name, Esposito writes, “I expected nothing, but hoped for everything.” How many of us with this disease–or any autoimmune disease for that matter–have felt the same way?

Jennifer Esposito shares what it is  like to live with celiac disease in new memoir called Jennifer's Way.

Esposito vividly describes what it’s like for one’s body to detox from a lifetime of eating gluten. I’ve never read a truer account. Going gluten-free isn’t an overnight cure–it’s a process that can make one feel even worse than when eating bread and pasta. While every person’s course of healing is different, Esposito shares concrete tips on how she improved her health through self-study. She answers questions the medical establishment typically doesn’t. Readers will surely come away with an idea or two. I know I did.

While Esposito does share recipes from her successful gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, peanut-free organic New York City bakery, also named Jennifer’s Way, and she has plans to go nationwide with her baked goods (can’t wait!), this book is by no means a promotional tool as some may suspect. Nor is it a celebrity tell-all as those unfamiliar with celiac disease have ignorantly suggested. Jennifer’s Way is a supportive and informational guide for the newly diagnosed and the yet-to-be diagnosed. Family members and friends of those with celiac disease as well as those in the medical community should read this book. So should those joke-cracking celebrities.

The Jennifer’s Way Foundation for Celiac Education (JWF)

Interview with Katie Couric

An Allergic Foodie Reviews Jennifer’s Way first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

The Allergic Foodie Rap

The Allergic Food Rap

 

See those  girls at the bar banning gluten to look fit?

They’ve got no clue how rye and wheat make a celiac sick.

They sip their Skinny Girl martinis and Omission beer,

Feeling like Gwyneth Paltrow when it was cool to be her.

Even Dr. Oz can’t decide if gluten-free is good or bad,

But smart chefs sure know how to profit on a fad.

Every corner restaurant got wheat-free spaghetti,

Even the waiters say no bread’s made them skinny.

“Well good for you,” An Allergic Foodie wanna say,

“I haven’t lost a pound since eating this way.”

Neither can the girl eat dairy, corn and soy–all make her sick.

Ah, yes dude, take out your pen and pad–this isn’t a trick.

This girl’s diet has nothing to do with the media craze,

For most, this gluten-free thing is just another phase.

But after the gluten-free menus are long gone,

A.F.’s need for A.F. food will still be goin’ strong.

So treat her right–don’t give that girl food without checking

That nothing she eats will be a reaction in the making.

Your tip will reflect the attention you’ve given,

To make sure that girl leaves your restaurant livin’.

But see those girls at the bar skippin’ the crackers?

They don’t get how for celiacs gluten-free matters.

At the end a meal, celiacs will pass on the cake.

But NOT  the girls at the bar cuz their GF diets are fake.

(C) Amy E. Tracy

The Allergic Foodie Rap originally appeared on Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Cookies from Goldilocks Goodies

An Allergic Foodie Finds a “Just Right” Cookie

It’s not often an allergic foodie gets to eat a treat. Not often at all.

If I’m eating out, a restaurant may offer me sorbet–please no mango or pineapple or I’ll break out in hives–or a bowl of berries. A dessert cup of berries costs more than a pint at the store, so I usually smile sweetly and say, “I’m too full for dessert.”

I am never too full for dessert.

So imagine my happiness when these allergy-friendly cookies arrived on my doorstep!

A Sweet Treat for an Allergic Foodie

They arrived two weeks before my birthday, so I decided to save them for a birthday treat.

This was hard. Really, really hard.

But here’s the thing. Not only do I have celiac disease and allergies to dairy, soy, and corn, I also cannot eat vanilla, nutmeg and guar gum. Oh and yeast seems to be a problem lately. (Actually, yeast has been a problem for a long time, but I have a tiny bit of a problem with denial.)  All these allergens are common in gluten-free and “allergy-friendly” processed baked goods.

For an allergic foodie, the words “No Top 8” does not mean the cookies are “Allergy Friendly.”

Goldilocks Goodies Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip cookies have FIVE ingredients. FIVE!  I didn’t have to scan the package for words like “maltodextrin” or “food starch.”  (Do note, however, if you have a peanut allergy, these aren’t for you.)

So I thought, how can a cookie stay together and taste good with just five ingredients?

I ate one. Okay I ate them all–it was my birthday. OMG, these are so gooooood.  I’m a Vermont girl, so I love the maple syrup flavor. The Himalayan sea salt gives the cookies a grown-up taste. Of course, I don’t know any kids who wouldn’t like them, too.

Lately, my husband has been into eating chocolate bars with almonds and sea salt while I drool, so I am really thrilled to now have something I can moan over and not give him a bite (we have issues; see my last post).

Besides having awesome cookies and other baked goods like Whoopie Pies, Goldilocks Goodies is a really cool small company. Emily Robins, the chief baker and founder, comes from a long line of bakers including her grandmother who singlehandedly rolled out nine pie crusts during harvest season to bake pies for the farm hands. Wow.

A Sweet Treat

Founder and Chief Chef of Goldilocks Goodies Emily Robins (right) with her mother

Emily went gluten free six years ago to help with the symptoms associated with Lyme Disease (celiac disease also runs in the family).  While going gluten free helped her feel better, she couldn’t find a cookie that wasn’t “grainy, too processed, and full of artificial ingredients.”  Like Goldilocks, Emily searched and searched for a cookie that was “just right.” Emily and I have a lot in common.

Discouraged, Emily began baking her own gluten-free cookies. She says, “My passion for baking was started because of my love of eating.”  Did I mention Emily and I have a lot in common?

As an allergic foodie, I believe it’s important for those of us with food restrictions to support the small companies like this one who are dedicated to making food we can eat safely. Without them, there’d be no cookies for an allergic foodie, and that would be sad. Really, really sad.

You can read all about Goldilocks Goodies here. The business is in Lancaster County,  PA but baked goods–did I mention they have WHOOPIE PIES?–can also be found in Virginia, Maryland and the DC area.  Some baked goods can be ordered online, too.

An Allergic Foodie Finds a “Just Right” Cookie originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.